"What do you see, Joe? Do you see Mama? Yeah, that's, Mama, she loves you very much, Joe, and she misses you." Luka struggled to keep his voice light as he carried on the conversation with his young son, the video of their wedding currently the only connection the toddler had to his absent mother.
"Mama." Joe raised his hand and pointed to the screen as Abby again appeared, then giggled and crawled to the television as he himself appeared.
"That's right, that's you, Joe." This wasn't the life they had planned for their son, him living first with one parent, then the other. Reaching for the remote, Luka switched the tape off, then rose and retrieved his son.
"Let's go outside, Joe, we'll see if we can find Niko." He swung the toddler comfortably onto his hip as he headed for the door. He wasn't going to spend the days he and Abby were apart in mourning, she wasn't dead and he wasn't going to act like she was, it wasn't fair to Joe.
"Do you want to walk, Joe?" He lowered the toddler to the ground as he asked the question of him, then began to follow him as the boy began to wander along the walkway. These past months had been so unfair to him and while they certainly didn't compare to the sacrifices that Jasna and Marko had been forced to endure, he was still being forced to face things he shouldn't have to.
This wasn't the life he wanted for his son, neither had it been the life he had wanted for Jasna and Marko. In the case of his first children the choice had been taken from his hands, this was not, or most of it wasn't. He couldn't erase the months he had already missed being with Joe, but he could make sure that he missed no more, and if it meant giving up his work at County and taking a position at a smaller hospital, or moving back to Croatia to do it, he was willing to make those sacrifices.
"What did you find, Joe?" As his son stopped and seemed drawn to something on the ground, Luka first moved up behind him, then dropped to a squat at his side. As he caught sight of what had captured his son's attention Luka couldn't help but smile.
"Bug, Joe...can you say, kukac?" He coached the boy through the word first in English, and then in Croatian. Of all the things he could give to his son, of all the things his son might remember about him when he was older, nothing could be more important then to know that he would most remember that his father had been there for him. What better legacy could he leave to his son than that of the importance of time spent with family?